Bob Amster

Principal, Retail Technology Group

Mr. Amster has served the retail and distribution industries as both a Consultant and Systems Manager since 1971. He currently heads The Retail Technology Group, an independent consulting firm.

Bob was a Senior Manager with the Northeast Retail Consulting Group of Ernst & Young. Prior to joining Ernst & Young, Mr. Amster held Systems Management positions for large retailers such as Kmart Apparel, Waldenbooks, and Caldor. In addition, he has consulted to retail, distribution, and software companies since 1985.

Bob’s hands-on experience encompasses strategic planning; operational reviews; and systems design and implementation. He specializes in needs assessments; software analyses, selection and implementation; operational procedures and process improvement; and systems integration. His project experience includes numerous engagements in the evaluation, selection and implementation of merchandising, financial, warehouse and store systems packages.

Additionally, Bob has served as interim head of IT for Barneys New York and Shane Company, and as interim head of the Store Systems Group for Savers, Inc.

Bob also has provided due diligence assistance to a number of private equity firms and has served the advisory board of retailers and of a number of e-commerce merchants, to whom he provided retail industry perspective.

  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Microsoft exploring checkout-less technologies

    Any innovation is always welcome and it makes the marketplace more competitive, bringing the cost of acquisition lower for retailers. The Amazon Go solution appears to be capital intensive and, therefore, a solution begging for a competitive offering. Nothing concrete is likely to happen in less than two years. These companies are investing in R&D because they can. Cost, speed and, above all, accuracy are the critical hurdles to overcome.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2018

    Do retailers need RFID to do BOPIS right?

    This is a no-brainer! If you tell the customer that the item they just purchased is ready for pick up, it better be ready for pick up. RFID is the only method/technology available by which a retailer can know with certainty that a unit of an SKU is in stock at a specific location. However, the process also has to ensure that the item has been located by store staff and put aside in a will-call location. Only then should the customer be notified that the purchase is ready for pick up.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    The question for today’s retailers: What business are you in?

    My definition of retailing used to be: "to sell products people want, buy them at the lowest price possible, sell them at the highest price possible, in the best locations possible." Today one must add: "through attractive and exciting channels and employing a frictionless process for purchasing."
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Should retailers incentivize store staff to accept digital transformation?

    This is a topic I have discussed on forums and with retail clients. The reality is that compensation models have to change to accommodate the fact that there are new functions to be performed in stores. Stores can be responsible for online sales and vice versa, and they are also responsible for processing returns of product they didn't sell. The solution is to test and determine the compensation paradigm that works best for each retailer. Straight compensation based on sales doesn't work anymore just like it doesn't work to measure same-store sales in an omnichannel model.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2018

    Brands win with TV 2.0 and the new direct mail

    TV is not dead and, surprisingly, neither is direct mail. If that is so, then advertising on these two types of media is advised. Consumers still watch TV and I enjoy receiving a good-looking glossy catalog from some companies. Furniture, smaller hard goods and even apparel companies can successfully use the TV 2.0 approach to advertise.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Is AI the key to legacy brands’ revitalization?

    AI is a great, relatively new tool and it does enhance a retailer's ability to refine its marketing campaigns, advertising and its website, maybe even its pricing. let's not forget, however, that it all starts with desirable product at a reasonable price.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2018

    Retailers get real with high-touch service

    And that is not only true of retailers. There are many businesses that do the utmost to keep you from talking to someone by navigating you through a cavernous labyrinth of menus that end up in a dead end.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2018

    Retailers get real with high-touch service

    Anything that reduces the amount of noise to which customers and retailers are exposed is a plus. The industry may have gotten too enthused with "touch, touch, touch" and will undoubtedly retrench to provide only what is "comfortable" and "acceptable" to consumers. I have yet to find a substitute for the human connection.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Does it pay for retailers to price-match their own websites?

    There are two ways to navigate through this quandary elegantly. One is to have one price from all channels. The second, if the first is not considered feasible, is to clearly state that on one channel this price is applicable to only purchases on this channel. It is much easier for the consumer to only have to deal with one price and, if retailers can manage this, to have this be the preferred pricing model. Simultaneously, retailers can analyze the purchases on each channel and, over time, adjust the one and only price so that it balances the cost differences between channels.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2018

    Walmart’s newest service brings texting and personal shopping together

    This is a new concept for Walmart on two fronts. It is geared to higher-income households and it starts in NYC (not a Walmart stronghold). We have to wait and see how this works out as I don't quite understand the logic behind the decision, other than the fact that Walmart has deep enough pockets to test concepts without breaking the bank. I can't see upscale retailers worrying about competing with Walmart.
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    Best Buy finds more inventory on hand drives sales

    Both demand planning and inventory management are critical components of every retailer's business (except possibly for showrooms). It is this fine balance of having sufficient assortment to avoid missed sales, and yet not so much inventory that stores look cluttered and the retailer is spending too much on product, that often goes underestimated by many retailers. It isn't all about the shiny new technology objects. Retailers have to pay close attention to the basics first, and inventory management is one of those basics.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    Millennials spend like crazy on their ‘fur-babies’

    Between Mike Osorio and Max Goldberg, they nailed the reasons. I have little more to add.
  • Posted on: 05/25/2018

    1-800-Flowers stays a step ahead of disruptive tech

    It's refreshing to see some retailers with this attitude. Culture is engendered at the top. It is the way it is at 1-800-Flowers most likely because McCann believes in the idea and pushes it down the organization, not unlike what Howard Schultz has done creating almost a cult at Starbucks. The trick is for companies to maintain those legacy attitudes through changes in management at the top.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    Yep. And I use that every time I get a chance -- because it's true.
  • Posted on: 05/23/2018

    Best Buy’s Geek Squad is now available by subscription

    The move fills a need for those who are either heavy users or feel useless with technology. In either case, it provides an added level of support and security to this who subscribe. The service should increase loyalty to Best Buy which, in turn, should translate into added lifetime value for the subscribers.

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